Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The Lost Oases

Michael Haag has written an extensive introduction to this new edition of the 1925 classic of desert exploration, The Lost Oases by Ahmed Hassanein, published by the American University in Cairo Press, Cairo and New York, 2006.

In The Lost Oases, Egyptian explorer and diplomat Ahmed Hassanein tells how he set out by camel from Egypt’s Mediterranean coast and into the unknown reaches of the Sahara. His perilous eight-month journey in 1923 took him round the western edges of the Great Sand Sea to El Obeid in the Sudan, a distance of 2200 miles, and led him to the discovery of the lost oases of Arkenu and Uweinat at the extreme southwest corner of Egypt. At Uweinat Hassanein was amazed to find rock drawings of animals, including lions, giraffes, ostriches and gazelles. He was deep in the trackless desert but what he had found was evidence of a flourishing human existence ten thousand years ago and proof that the Sahara was once green. Hassanein’s discovery excited the imaginations of later European explorers such as Ralph Bagnold and Ladislaus Almásy, the model for the eponymous character in The English Patient. But Hassanein was there first, travelling by camel with Bedouin guides, encountering the mysterious Senussi brotherhood in Libya, and confirming the existence of the long-forgotten oases. First published in 1925 and long out of print, The Lost Oases is now available for another generation of readers in this new edition, which includes an introduction
by Michael Haag on Hassanein, his life and his accomplishments. Copiously illustrated with Hassanein’s own photographs, this is a gripping travel narrative by one of the twentieth century's most important explorers.

'Hassanein left a legacy of unprecedented achievements and an incredible account of his journey in The Lost Oases, an inspiration for generations to come.' - Al Ahram Weekly